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David Silverman, a principled atheist

Go to twitter now: David Silverman (@MrAtheistPants) is tearing the atheist trolls a new one. This is really what I like to see: a leader of a major atheist organization taking an unambiguous stand against this ulcer in our midst, and repudiating the spammy, photoshopping, lying behavior of the anti-feminist clique.

How much do I appreciate it? With my dollars. My wife is going to sign us up for a lifetime membership in American Atheists while I’m away. It’s not a casual investment, so not everyone can do that, but you could send them a donation to let the organization know that you like a leader with a spine.

Comments

  1. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    My reaction to Mr. Silverman is thus

    Bravo sir. Now let me find my pocket book.

    Also: J. Vacuous living up to the moniker in the comments.

  2. gAytheist says

    I’m glad to hear this, PZ but there must be more to this that what I’m seeing? All I see is one short comment from Silverman:

    David Silverman @MrAtheistPants 44m
    @justinvacula can’t get into this now. One final word. If you can’t bring yourself to fight shit, you will be seen as approving it.

    which is followed by a number of responses from other people. I’d like to see what Silverman said. Do I have to be a member of twitter? I hate twitter and I’m not going to join.

  3. says

    I’m not particularly big on the whole “leader” business… but if you’re going to accept the position, you can at least use it for something positive and meaningful. Silverman is doing just that, and good for him AND American Atheists. Not just standing for some vague principle, but standing against specific wrong behaviors and the people engaging in them.

  4. A. Noyd says

    Oh for fuck’s sake. One of Vaculous’ tweets in that conversation: “What is this ‘hate v women?’ Why make it a gendered issue, anyway?”

  5. scarr says

    But don’t make the mistake that all of the ‘anti-feminist’ clique is unprincipled. Quite the contrary actually. You may see me in action and think ‘there’s wonderful feminist’…and you’d be wrong.

  6. says

    Twitter conversations are even worse to follow than Tumblr discussions! I hardly understand what’s going on. What I got is that Vacula is unwilling to publicly rebuke the excesses of the anti-feminist side, and Dave is calling him on it.

  7. Sili says

    Xaivius ,

    My reaction to Mr. Silverman is thus

    Really? You think he put on a crap performance?

  8. Artor says

    I’m with Miller. I tried to decipher that Twitter thread, but it all looks like disconnected gibberish to me. I could barely glean anything from the attempt. Would it be possible for someone to compile that into a readable thread?

  9. says

    As near as I can tell, the gist went sort of like this –

    Silverman – Great conference
    Vacula – *spewed shit*
    Silverman – Hey, you are spewing shit
    Vacula – *attempted to claim somewhere in that shit there was a point*
    Silverman – Why should I waste my time going through your shit trying to find the valid point you claim to be making
    Vacula – Because I am penis-haver
    Silverman – If you aren’t going to be coherent and continue to support trolls, why should anyone care what you say?
    Vacula – *whined and spewed more shit*

  10. says

    Hm. I took a couple of screen shots of the opening round of that discussion. If people are finding it that difficult to follow the convo I guess I should post them.

  11. thetalkingstove says

    I really enjoyed David’s tweets. Shame they had to be interspersed with Vacula spouting ‘But do you oppose Mexican drug cartels?’ over and over as if he has a point.

    He’s just clueless.

  12. Scr... Archivist says

    First, good for Mr. Silverman.

    Second, here is how I read the Twitter conversation.

    1.) To read the exchanges, follow the link that PZ gave. Then find David Silverman’s tweet that says “you mean when I treat women as equals & allies…” That seems to be where this exchange began.

    2.) Then right-click the “View Conversation” link just below that tweet from David. Open this in a new tab to see a part of the conversation, with all participants (not just David or people he re-tweeted). (You can just left-click it, but you might find this a bit more confusing.)

    3.) That entire “branch” of the conversation will appear in the new tab in proper chronological order. You might have to scroll up to see any earlier tweets that David was responding to.

    4.) But there are many other branches of conversation after that one. On David’s main page, scroll up, and right-click each of the other “View Conversation” links. (The main page is in reverse chronological order.)

    5.) You will notice that many of the individual messages are repeated in different branches. This is (I think) because of other participants commenting later and thus making slightly different endings to the same “trunk” of older messages. Trying to make a single thread out of all of them wouldn’t work.

    I hope that answers folks’ questions.

  13. Chuck says

    I really enjoyed David’s tweets. Shame they had to be interspersed with Vacula spouting ‘But do you oppose Mexican drug cartels?’ over and over as if he has a point.

    He’s just clueless.

    It’s frustrating reading Vacula’s “argument from silence! argument from silence!” when Silverman keeps prodding him to NOT BE SILENT and Vacula keeps refusing to speak up.

    You can only hide behind the argument from silence until you’re given the opportunity to address the subject head on. When you then refuse to speak up, it’s no longer an argument from silence.

  14. thetalkingstove says

    Chuck #20 –

    Exactly. No one’s asking Vacula to spend his time tracking down and calling out sexism online. Just to object to it when it’s presented to you.

    Just like no one’s asking David Silverman to go undercover to fight a drug gang, but if someone asked him ‘what do you think of this drug-murder?’ he would probably be fine with saying ‘This is horrible and I’m against it’.

  15. Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters says

    Well that makes me a lot more comfortable doing stuff with American Atheists despite their crappy billboards. Hooray!

    Plus Mr. Silverman was kind enough to post for a photo making his Are You Fucking Kidding Bill O’Reilly face at me wearing my Boy Scout leader uniform.

  16. ~G~ says

    Just sent AA $25 and sent them a long letter telling them why. I actually am not a big fan of some of their tactics, but money talks and we need to get the ball rolling and start demanding this and rewarding this kind of leadership from our movement.

  17. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Really? You think he put on a crap performance?
    –Sili@10

    FSM no! I forget that this scene is Kane stubbornly supporting his wife’s disastrous debut. Please take my sentiment to mean “I support this line of commentary.” Bad usage has made me forget the context of the scene. Apologies.

    Also, Cashmonies sent. Like ~G~ said: Money Talks.

  18. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    BLARGLE. Blockquote fail ><

    Really? You think he put on a crap performance?
    –Sili@10

    FSM no! I forget that this scene is Kane stubbornly supporting his wife’s disastrous debut. Please take my sentiment to mean “I support this line of commentary.” Bad usage has made me forget the context of the scene. Apologies.

    Also, Cashmonies sent. Like ~G~ said: Money Talks.

  19. says

    I just read the tweets Stephanie Zvan linked to at #26, and I must say, every time Vacula gets involved in something, I read the man’s own words, and my opinion of him somehow gets even lower.
     
    That is some pathetic display he put on there.

  20. says

    actually, let me try to reconstruct the conversation for y’all (this is most of it, focusing on vacula-silverman conversation-chains, so i left out some other ppls tweets; also, take the chronology with a grain of salt):

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants With is with your constant pandering toward women, Dave? It seems to belittle them, as if their merits don’t stand on own.

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula you mean when I treat women as equals & allies, while dissing the anonymous assholes who post and rt vile messages & pix?

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants So much pandering w these anti-harassment policies, http://skepchick.org/2012/07/speaking-out-against-hate-directed-at-women-david-silverman/ …, tweet about having more than 50% speakers…
    @MrAtheistPants This stuff is not needed. The merits of women in this movement stand on their own…and they don’t need to be ‘defended.’
    @MrAtheistPants With your pandering, you help spread false narrative – that community is hostile to and excluding women.

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula SOME of the community is genuinely hostile. It disgusts me. When some Pretend otherwise,despite evidence,it looks like defense

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants What is the evidence? Who are these “genuinely hostile” people and how do you know they are part of community?

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula I would LOVE to see you publicly trash the genuine haters. Stop pretending there are no assholes.

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants Why is it case I ought to publicly trash? I can’t police the whole of internet trolling. Who are these “genuine haters?”
    @MrAtheistPants There are jerks out there, sure, but are these people in movement, serious voices in discussion? What are they saying?

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula for example, the fake pic of @rebeccawatson in sexually demeaning position. Can you agree that’s shit? Publicly?

    Richard Reed:
    @MrAtheistPants @justinvacula even talking about it would draw attention to it, which is exactly what the person who did it wants.

    David Silverman:
    @RichardReed84 agree, but praise is implied in the defense, prompting repeat. If @justinvacula is to be heard he must acknowledge, abhor it.

    Somite:
    @RichardReed84 @MrAtheistPants @justinvacula Reprehensible? Yes. However, not related to atheism or skepticism.

    David Silverman ‏@MrAtheistPants 2h
    @toxicpath @RichardReed84 @justinvacula I completely disagree, and use your tweet as case-in-point.
    @toxicpath @RichardReed84 @justinvacula same goes for EVERYONE who lol’ed it and rt’d. Shit shit shit. This is your problem.

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants @RichardReed84 Defense? What defense? Who or what am I defending?
    @MrAtheistPants @toxicpath @RichardReed84 Is this photoshop from someone in the movement? How do you know?

    Richard Reed:
    @MrAtheistPants @justinvacula I disagree. I don’t believe that not renouncing something is the same as approving it.

    Somite:
    @RichardReed84 @MrAtheistPants @justinvacula this is exactly like the religious argument “Hitler and Stalin were atheists”.

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula can’t get into this now. One final word. If you can’t bring yourself to fight shit, you will be seen as approving it.

    Justin Vacula ‏@justinvacula 2h
    @MrAtheistPants I suppose, Dave, you approve of everything you don’t fight?
    @Dr_wRath @MrAtheistPants You approve of everything you don’t fight? You approve of child pornography?
    Justin Vacula ‏@justinvacula 2h
    @MrAtheistPants @toxicpath @RichardReed84 Apparently, we can bash Islam all day and Draw Mohammad, but RW is sacred, immune from ridicule?

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula @toxicpath @RichardReed84 hyperbole. Never said nor suggested that. You are not hearing me.
    @justinvacula Your detractors don’t mind criticism. They mind hate. Take their sides when you agree. Seek no excuses to miss opportunities.

    Justin Vacula :
    @MrAtheistPants People like RW conflate – act as if all opposition is “haters” “misogynists” “sexists” and such.
    @MrAtheistPants People detest RW and complany because of their behavior, not bc they are women – RW claims misogyny problem in mvt

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula then criticize her. But just as I vocally abhor violence against churches, YOU must abhor hate v women to be taken seriously.

    Currie Jean:
    @MrAtheistPants @justinvacula We’re either with you or we’re against you, eh Dave? Where have I run into that kind of thinking before?

    David Silverman:
    @_interrobanging @justinvacula yes. I have no tolerance for shit, or for those who support or promote it in our movement. Civility or shit

    Justin Vacula:
    @CamelsHammers @MrAtheistPants @toxicpath @RichardReed84 @rebeccawatson I don’t support that image. Don’t see as ‘problem’ in mvt from this
    @EIAtheism @OpheliaBenson @MrAtheistPants @toxicpath @RichardReed84 Julia, do you approve of Mexican drug cartels? Do you fight them?
    @EIAtheism @OpheliaBenson @MrAtheistPants @toxicpath @RichardReed84 Dave says that if you don’t fight something you are seen as approving it

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula @EIAtheism @OpheliaBenson @toxicpath @RichardReed84 no Justin. I said YOU are seen as approving.
    @justinvacula you are fighting two different fights. U see it as attacking actions but they see it as hate bc you support shit. 1/2
    @justinvacula if you denounce shit, your attacks on rw’s actions will be taken far more seriously. Like when I denounce church vandalism.
    @justinvacula you’re not listening. I tried to help. Please consider what I’ve written and meant. Gotta go.

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants Care for debate/discussion in future? Love to have you on future episode of #BraveHero Radio. (1/2)
    @MrAtheistPants Topic/debate concerning sexism in atheist mvt or variations thereof. (2/2)

    Brian Fields:
    @justinvacula @MrAtheistPants @toxicpath @RichardReed84 Justin: There’s a difference between taking people to task for ideas and attacking
    @justinvacula @MrAtheistPants @toxicpath @RichardReed84 people to be a shit. If you simply give people you consider “on your side” a pass

    Justin Vacula:
    @geekexile @MrAtheistPants @toxicpath @RichardReed84 I am not supportive of nude, sexualized photoshops. These people aren’t ‘my side.’

    Brian Fields:
    @justinvacula @MrAtheistPants @toxicpath @RichardReed84 That’s what people were hoping you’d say instead of “What about islam?”

    David Silverman:
    “@geekexile: @justinvacula @toxicpath @RichardReed84 That’s what people were hoping you’d say instead of “What about islam?”” <- gets it.
    @justinvacula few would seriously consider criticism against me from a WBC supporter, right? Even if it were correct? Abhor hate & b heard

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants What is this assumption – that if I don't speak against x I support x? That's unreasonable, very high demand you pose
    @MrAtheistPants there are all sorts of issues I am silent about, doesn't mean I support hatred, vile people, etc.

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula Again, me & Church vandalism. Perfect analogy. Decry or be perceived to support, fair or not.
    @justinvacula hate and threats against your opposition is the wrong thing about which to be silent.

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants It's unfair and unreasonable. You must be moral monster bc of all the things you don't speak against…
    @MrAtheistPants Shall we say, Dave, you support campaigns of male circumcision in Africa if you don't speak against it?

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula it is neither. It is fact. Every time a church is vandalized I put out a statement abhorring vandalism bc I am not about that.
    @justinvacula your hesitancy to do the same is troubling. This is a clear and easy path I take all the time.
    @justinvacula you're not listening, you're derailing , and that's disturbing. This is about u endorsing hate from 'your side' via silence.
    @_interrobanging @justinvacula if anyone charged me with supporting genital mutilation I would vociferously respond. Obviously.

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants Have you condemned all hatred directed at me from PZ RW and company? Holding you to your own standards…

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula If its criticism, no! If its pix of you tied up with cum on your face, yes!

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants Criticism conflated w sexism, misogyny, harassment, threats, stalking, etc.
    @MrAtheistPants I've been called "anti-woman leader," "misogynist," "stochastic terrorist" much more. Where is your support, Dave?

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula I'm supporting you here and now, telling you how to be more successful. Take my advice and elevate yourself.

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants Silence is not endorsement. Anyway, what do you want me to say?
    ustin
    @geekexile @MrAtheistPants I don't support threats, violence…and everything I don't support.

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula @geekexile keep it coming Justin! You may get me on your show yet!

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants I'm not up for policing the internet with every objectionable picture that might be out there.
    @AtheistBikerVP @MrAtheistPants Hm? I continue w activism (keep posted this week for more). No interest anyway in having PZ and co as allies
    @AtheistBikerVP @MrAtheistPants My activism stands on own merits…and I have supporters who matter. Not interested in #ftbullies as allies.
    @MrAtheistPants But you, Dave, and anyone else – am willing to chat, debate to get to bottom of issues, put ideas out there.
    @MrAtheistPants So, what do you say? #bravehero

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula then I'm not interested in doing your show.
    @justinvacula I'm not here to waste time with those uninterested in building allies and mending fences toward a more unified movement. (1)
    @justinvacula if you wish to improve relations let me see you denounce shit from those perceived to be your allies. Then I will come on.
    @justinvacula let me see your statement without my input. Impress me. Please.

  21. markbrown says

    Jadehawk: Not wasted though, there was more at end the others missed.

    Great to see Justin squirm. As David says, how is it possible to judge any criticism as valid when it is surrounded with so much hate, and those who claim to want to have serious discussion refuse to denounce that hate? If you can’t be bothered to make your points distinguishable from those of the trolls and haters, why should we be expected to do that work you?

  22. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Vacula cranked the stupid up to 11 and tore off the knob….again.
    He thinks he’s the real victim here and that he’s done nothing to encourage and support the harassers? He doesn’t think he’s helped make the community more hostile toward women and he does interviews and write articles for AVfM. Wow. Not a clue to be found in his head, is there?

  23. ildi says

    My favorite part:

    @MrAtheistPants I’ve been called “anti-woman leader,” “misogynist,” “stochastic terrorist” much more. Where is your support, Dave?

    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula I’m supporting you here and now, telling you how to be more successful. Take my advice and elevate yourself.

  24. Dexeron says

    Wow, it didn’t take long for Vacula to pull out the old false equivalency canard.

    “But RW and PZ are meeeeeaaaaaaan to me!”

  25. A. Noyd says

    When I was confirming Vacula’s connection to AVFM today, I noticed he’d just put up a post about his “thoughts concerning” that very site. Not going to link to it, but it’s out there if anyone needs something to induce more facepalming.

  26. Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters says

    I’ve finally figured out what bothers me so much about the Vaculas of the world. (ok, so I’m a slow learner). It’s that they spend all their time whining and doubting that the rape threats and photoshopped porn and such came from “within the community”, not noticing that they’re basically using a great big No True Scotsman to get out of addressing the question. And they’re so busy doing the No True Scotsman doubting thing that they cannot even say “Wow, it really sucks to get stuff like that in your inbox even if I disagree with your views,” which would seem to me to be Compassion 101 level stuff.

    It’s gaslighting, and it goes on and on and on and on. It’s also, apparently, contagious, as evidenced by Ron Lindsay’s meltdown this weekend.

  27. David Marjanović says

    oh pff. i put so much effort into untangling that conversation, and two people were faster than me :-(

    But yours was actually, y’know, detailed and stuff. I learned a lot from it. I want chocolate now.

  28. gemcutter says

    Correct me if I’m wrong but…

    Doesn’t the Slymepit openly disseminate and laugh it up about all the sexist images and jokes and bullshit hurled at secular feminists? That’s why Vacula comes off as so disingenuous. It’s like if American Atheists had a forum where they laughed an joked about church vandalism, and then David Silverman claimed that there was no proof that American Atheists encouraged church vandalism.

    But The Slymepit laughs about this awful stuff happening to secular feminists all the time, and Vacula has the nerve to claim that is not his job to denounce it? Seriously?

    Or am I wrong about this? Do the pitters carefully maintain plausible deniability by never publicly disseminating sexist images and jokes? Somehow I doubt it.

  29. says

    Further to @44: And these people cheer on Vacula, correct? (I’ve never paid attention to that crowd so as to be up on the personae and who supports what, etc.) ‘Cuz if I found myself with a fan club like that — say, if I were blogging against Islamism and found myself getting favorable comments and trackbacks from far-right racist and anti-immigrant types — I’d be at some pains to tell said fans to FOAD, and explain why my position in no way supported theirs. Because I recognize that sort of hijacking to be a genuine risk, and that the distinction is crucially important to maintain.

    But the closest to that I’ve seen from Vacula is the tepid “I am not supportive of nude, sexualized photoshops. These people aren’t ‘my side.’” (Granted, this twitter thread is the most of him I’ve ever read)

  30. A Hermit says

    But the closest to that I’ve seen from Vacula is the tepid “I am not supportive of nude, sexualized photoshops. These people aren’t ‘my side.’”

    And getting even that much out of him was like pulling teeth.

    Meanwhile he’s happy to support the odious Paul Elam and “A Voice for Men” where rape victims are described as “conniving bitches” who were probably “begging for it” and thinly veiled fantasies about beating women abound alongside woo-level “statistics” and creationist level “reasoning”…

  31. Sili says

    Xaivius

    FSM no!

    I have to admit, I knew that.

    I just don’t like that scene being misused, so I turn inordinately snarky.

    Sorry.

  32. says

    Doesn’t the Slymepit openly disseminate and laugh it up about all the sexist images and jokes and bullshit hurled at secular feminists? That’s why Vacula comes off as so disingenuous. It’s like if American Atheists had a forum where they laughed an joked about church vandalism, and then David Silverman claimed that there was no proof that American Atheists encouraged church vandalism.

    their excuse is that everyone on the pit is a True Free Individual and the pit is a Total Free Speech zone, neither endorsing nor condemning what is posted there. Consequently it is evil and poisoning the well and guilt by association to hold one pitter responsible for the actions of any other pitter, or the pit as a whole. even if the accused is on very good terms with any of the ppl doing the bad actions.

  33. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    I’m really quite glad that I have no idea who this Vacula eejit is…!

  34. says

    Does the head of AA have nothing better to do than repudiating toxic shit from non-entities on Twitter? (Putting up stupid billboards is another of his pastimes I guess)

    I mean yeah sure it’s laudable, and frankly the least I’d expect from a decent human being, but here we are again giving these clowns airtime and consideration.

    OTOH, it’s about time one of the “leaders” of this movement came out in condemning the trolls. I’m looking at you, Mick Nugent.

  35. says

    @50: I’m sure he does, as do we all. But the trolls, alas, have made themselves unavoidable — go see how much of #wiscfi is occupied by JV and Slymers — and “just ignore them”is not a viable strategy. A strong statement from a movement leader (and whatever else we may think of that concept and term, the headship of an prominent organization carries a certain legitimate gravitas) is invaluable.

  36. Ichthyic says

    Not a clue to be found in his head, is there?

    never was.

    discovered that the very first time I read one of his blog posts, over 2 years ago.

    he’s like the clingy guy you just want to scrape off you shoe…

  37. Ichthyic says

    Silverman:

    you’re not listening, you’re derailing , and that’s disturbing

    and that’s Vacula, to a “T”.

    nothing but derailment from his very own fainting couch.

    just step on this cockroach and be done with it.

  38. consciousness razor says

    I mean yeah sure it’s laudable, and frankly the least I’d expect from a decent human being, but here we are again giving these clowns airtime and consideration.

    Yep.

    I realize this line of thought can easily move into mansplainey “dear muslima” territory, but I think we can agree that this shit still does get really fucking old. Maybe I’m wrong. Dealing with the clowns isn’t a distraction because it’s a serious problem by itself, but…. ugh, we don’t need to just react to a bunch of reactionaries. The way it’s going doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere.

    A strong statement from a movement leader (and whatever else we may think of that concept and term, the headship of an prominent organization carries a certain legitimate gravitas) is invaluable.

    Then Dave Muscato’s thank you, linked in #28, deserves more recognition, I think.

    A barely comprehensible mess of one-liners, against a gang of trolls on twitter, is hardly accomplishing much in the way of communication. I’d call it “invaluable” if I felt like there were something definite I could actually sink my teeth into, so that maybe I could tell if there were some end in sight to this bullshit. But it’s just a sideshow of retorts, mixed with fallacies and distortions that are left hanging because “g2g, kthxbai,” “not enough room in [tweet/billboard]…” “…see link 4more http:/@#$*(!^ .”

  39. Ichthyic says

    …see link 4more

    speaking of which, Vacula has posted a response to Dave’s request.

    as usual, he doesn’t really get it.

    and, I’m now disappointed that it appears Dave doesn’t get it either.

    My conclusion:

    twitter is fail communication. Stop using it to discuss serious matters. it just doesn’t work.

  40. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Roshock,
    This isn’t important? After two years of this toxic shit you’re complaining that the movement’s “leaders” should be paying attention to other things? All he did was answer the asshat on twitter. What did that take, all of 15 min? Are you saying he shouldn’t have spent just a few minutes on calling this asshole out? What great thing was he supposed to do with his time? Maybe this isn’t important to you, but it’s important to the people being harassed and the women who are being told to “get out” because they aren’t wanted here.

    Could you please stop pretending like ignoring these people will make them go away.

  41. melody says

    I thanked Dave for standing up against hate. I wish other leaders did the same. However, Dave has decided to give credibility to JV by going on his show.

  42. Ichthyic says

    However, Dave has decided to give credibility to JV by going on his show.

    exactly.

    nothing was learned in that failed communication between Vacula and Silverman.

    nothing.

  43. hypatiasdaughter says

    Justin Vacula:
    @MrAtheistPants Have you condemned all hatred directed at me from PZ RW and company? Holding you to your own standards…[examples of hatred that JV cites are “anti-woman leader,” “misogynist,” “stochastic terrorist” ]
    David Silverman:
    @justinvacula If its criticism, no! If its pix of you tied up with cum on your face, yes!

    This is the first time I have seen someone actually display any awareness that the behavior’s of the two sides are not equal, i.e. it is not just a heated verbal spat between two parties. So many others have treated it like “Oh, just an another internet spat. Get over it. Ignore them. Don’t provoke them.” They are more interested in not making waves (at best), or keeping tight with the bros (at worst).
    It’s like DS has been actually paying attention.

  44. consciousness razor says

    My conclusion:

    twitter is fail communication. Stop using it to discuss serious matters. it just doesn’t work.

    Mine too. They’d probably say more by trading surrealist readymades with another.

  45. hypatiasdaughter says

    **Edit**#59 [examples of hatred that JV cites are being called an “anti-woman leader,” “misogynist,” “stochastic terrorist” ]

  46. Ichthyic says

    They’d probably say more by trading surrealist readymades with another.

    ha!

  47. ck says

    Eamon Knight wrote:

    But the closest to that I’ve seen from Vacula is the tepid “I am not supportive of nude, sexualized photoshops. These people aren’t ‘my side.’” (Granted, this twitter thread is the most of him I’ve ever read)

    And that tepid statement would have a little more impact if he didn’t follow it up immediately, with a “why should RW/feminists be immune to criticism?” I’m not sure if he’s being intentionally evasive and disingenuous, or if he really thinks that opposing sexualized photoshops and abuse means criticism is also forbidden. Either way, it’s not really a flattering attitude to be transmitting to the world.

  48. says

    so Vacula’s ticking off the “write a statement against harassment” checkbox worked on Silverman. I would like to think Silverman is going to hand Vacula his ass on that show… but we’ll see.

    OTOH, Silverman goes on various shows where the host and audience are 100% stupid and hostile, so this at least is his basic MO, not some extraordinary accommodation.

  49. shawn says

    For those who are saying there is nothing to gain by this…are you serious? This is exactly what we need. We need more high profile people within the atheoskeptishpere directly calling these shits out. Make it clear where you stand. Show people that you have no time for their BS instead of just saying you don’t condone it, ignore it and let the harassment continue then blame the victims as being “dramatic” when they fight back.

  50. says

    Jadehawk:
    Thanks for that. It was illuminating, even if I only got through about half.
    Do you have some aspirin?
    All that @ stuff made following the conversation difficult for me (not blaming you I know that’s how Twitter is set up)

  51. says

    Shawn:
    I completely agree.
    In addition given the events of this past weekend I think it was a great idea for another leader of a secular organization to condemn the sexism in the community. WiS2 left a sour note in the mouths of many. Following on the heels of that with affirmations of the standards of other organizations (AA) or clear admonishment for the damage Ron did (Secularm Woman) is a good thing. Many atheists wish religious organizations would do the same. Can secular groups do no less?
    Ironically, one of the trolls in the last few days commented about FtB cleaning up its own house. Though not FtB, Secular Woman and AA are in the position of doing just that. Given their size and presence in the community, maybe some people will get off the Damn fence.

  52. Ichthyic says

    so Vacula’s ticking off the “write a statement against harassment” checkbox worked on Silverman. I would like to think Silverman is going to hand Vacula his ass on that show… but we’ll see.

    I would note, FWIW, that ool0n in the comments for Vacula’s response is correctly calling out the idiots there for their lies and misrepresentations of FtB, PZ, etc.

    I’ll remember that the next time he swings by.

    He said some stupid shit here, but I think he was being honest about not liking the slimers.

  53. screechymonkey says

    Jadehawk@48:

    their excuse is that everyone on the pit is a True Free Individual and the pit is a Total Free Speech zone, neither endorsing nor condemning what is posted there. Consequently it is evil and poisoning the well and guilt by association to hold one pitter responsible for the actions of any other pitter, or the pit as a whole

    I’m guessing that same principle doesn’t apply to FtB though, right?

    Yeah, that’s a rhetorical question.

  54. Ichthyic says

    Show people that you have no time for their BS instead of just saying you don’t condone it

    exactly.

    which is why a lot of us are very disappointed that Silverman just patted Vacula on the head by agreeing to be on his “show”.

    it’s much like the response one would have if Richard Dawkins agreed to debate Ken Ham.

  55. Ichthyic says

    I’m guessing that same principle doesn’t apply to FtB though, right?

    oh, go ahead, stretch that reasoning out in full.

    this should be good.

  56. echidna says

    I saw a comment recently by oolon somewhere on the CFI site, saying that his views have been changing. I like what I see now.

  57. consciousness razor says

    For those who are saying there is nothing to gain by this…are you serious?

    Personally, I’m saying there’s little to gain by doing it this way. I am serious about that.

    This is exactly what we need. We need more high profile people within the atheoskeptishpere directly calling these shits out. Make it clear where you stand.

    If you’re responding to something on twitter, that could be done with one (1) tweet, a link to a blog/article which actually says something, with a line of reasoning you are able to follow and think about in some depth, emphasis on certain points relative to others, clarification about more complex ideas which might be misunderstood, as well as links or diagrams or videos or whatever the hell you need to say what needs to be said. You don’t need more tweets after that, and you get none of the above by trying to cram the whole thing into a bunch of tweets instead of the easily-digestible article (or two). Trying to do it with twitter just turns it into a maze of half-formed thoughts, which are lost or forgotten anyway as more get spewed out from every direction. It simply does not work.

    As just plain troll-bashing? Sure, for that, it might be a useful medium. I’ve never tried. I’d still guess that it’s likely to let trolls get away with murder, but then maybe that’s cause to bash the trolls once again.

  58. says

    Regarding oolon, I’ll say that I’ve seen him commenting elsewhere and quite a bit on twitter in the last few months. I have no knowledge of his past here besides comments he’s made. He’s rather amusing to follow. He’s kind of a self-admitted troll…but I only see him trolling the slymers. And that mostly just in the sense of regularly calling them out on their lies.

    And as far as Silverman agreeing to be on Vacula’s show…I am leery of that. I haven’t read Vacula’s post, but it sure doesn’t sound like he got it from comments here – and I would have been quite surprised if it was even half-way decent. But Silverman does a lot of cool stuff, and he’s used to hanging with people like O’Reilly, so I’ll hold judgement until actually seeing how it goes. Maybe he can thoroughly school Vacula in a way Vacula and his listeners (he has at least a few, right?) might hear it. At the very least it seems like Silverman has a vast reservoir of patience.

  59. says

    rorschach, I’m not getting your point. I know you’re not advocating the old “just ignore them”, but what exactly are you saying? I’m particularly puzzled why you seem to think that Silverman is wasting his time engaging them, but Nugent should come out and make a statement against them. Is it something to do with the format or the media?

    John-Henry, I agree that oolon is basically a good guy, but IIRC he got in trouble here because he would not ever drop the topic even in inappropriate threads, and insisted on quoting slymeshit when it was upsetting people.

  60. melody says

    I think there is a lot to be gained any time a prominent leader speaks out against a harasser whatever the platform. However, any time a leader goes on his show or a legitimate journalist quotes JV this gives him credibility that he has done nothing to deserve. He should be condemned and marginalized.

  61. says

    Melody:
    Similar to PZs refusal to publicly debate creationists then? I see your (and others’) point.
    ****
    Screechymonkey:
    Feel free to come right out and make your thoughts known. Maybe they will be new talking points…

  62. says

    If I were Justin Vacula I’d try to blame Twitter’s silly messaging format for my incoherence, or maybe “I was hacked!” then change my name and look for another hobby where I hadn’t thoroughly shit the bed.

  63. says

    We shouldn’t simultaneously complain that it’s hard to read/follow twitter, but that Silverman shouldn’t go on Vacula’s “show” — after all, it might give Silverman an opportunity to confront Vacula’s idiotic “arguments” in complete sentences, paragraphs, even.

    I don’t think it’s inappropriate to go on someone’s show with a confrontational attitude, as long as you don’t walk into it blind and you’re clear that you’re coming with the intent of discussing a serious disagreement. By “not walking into it blind” I mean making sure that a complete transcript is posted somewhere, so you can’t be quote-mined, and using the opportunity to expose any intellectually dishonest tricks the other guy is playing.

  64. consciousness razor says

    I may be incorrect, but isn’t oolon one of the few people to actually criticize FtB AND the Pit?

    Depends on what you mean by “criticize.” (We have self-criticism here, from more than a few people, so don’t count that out.)

    But yes, sort of, maybe. He thinks he’s somewhere near the golden mean between feminazi and raging bigot. (More than just a few think this way.) It may also be that he just likes to troll, no matter who or what the target is. Whether it’s substantial “criticism” is another question, but I’m sure I’ve missed at least some things he’s said.

  65. says

    Got in on that twitter feed for awhile. Jesus Christ, I don’t know how people communicate with that medium. The 140 character limit is fucking horrible. It almost seems designed for Gish Gallop type soundbites; for SallyStrange and all the other horde regulars who tweeted at Vacula, et al, I salute you.

  66. Ichthyic says

    I may be incorrect, but isn’t oolon one of the few people to actually criticize FtB AND the Pit?

    the problem is, he didn’t do it HERE.

    in fact, when he was here, he made a point of trying to do the exact opposite, and playing Rodney King.

    …and by that I mean, he could have been entirely summed up over his many irritating posts as saying over and over: “Can’t we all just get along?”

  67. Ichthyic says

    Oolon got what imprudent fence-straddlers get.

    …when they sit on a razorwire fence. Yes, he was a complete ass during his tenure here.

    still, as I noted, he does (at least more recently) honestly represent the problems with the slimer position and call them out on it, when he is addressing them.

    no regrets for what happened to him here in the past, but thinking he might be worthy of reprieve from the dungeon these days.

  68. Ichthyic says

    If I were Justin Vacula I’d try to blame Twitter’s silly messaging format for my incoherence, or maybe “I was hacked!”

    which reminds me…

    anyone following the fun and frolic surrounding Amy’s Baking Company? just google it, if you haven’t.

  69. Ichthyic says

    We shouldn’t simultaneously complain that it’s hard to read/follow twitter, but that Silverman shouldn’t go on Vacula’s “show” — after all, it might give Silverman an opportunity to confront Vacula’s idiotic “arguments” in complete sentences, paragraphs, even.

    well, there are these things called online forums, where you can address arguments at length…

  70. brianpansky says

    uhh, haven’t I been seeing someone called oolon around ftb who is actually decent? I don’t think I’ve ever seen questionable content in a recent oolon post.

    like, there are dozens of good oolon posts on ftb, aren’t there?

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/05/19/an-alternate-universe/#comment-235948

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/05/21/now-im-a-nazi-sniper/#comment-236604

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/3-weird/#comment-547435

    though I admit some of the content of these posts just sounds good to me because I don’t know who a lot of the names are and I just assume stuff about them…

    also, there is some multiplicity of oolons! aaaaaahh!

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/08/28/update-the-original-oolon-is-not-the-culprit/

  71. says

    I’m guessing that same principle doesn’t apply to FtB though, right?

    of course not! which is why this community doesnt self-police, why people who are being toxic don’t have the whole community come down on them like a ton of bricks, why toxic shits don’t get bsnned, ever.

    Not what you meant, was it.

  72. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    Yeah, Oolon posts on FtB blogs, including Pharyngula. I’m not sure if there are two users with the same name, or what… *confuzz*

  73. Ichthyic says

    ah, I seemed to recall PZ got fed up with him a while back and tossed him.

    huh.

  74. says

    I’ve finally figured out what bothers me so much about the Vaculas of the world. (ok, so I’m a slow learner). It’s that they spend all their time whining and doubting that the rape threats and photoshopped porn and such came from “within the community”, not noticing that they’re basically using a great big No True Scotsman to get out of addressing the question. And they’re so busy doing the No True Scotsman doubting thing that they cannot even say “Wow, it really sucks to get stuff like that in your inbox even if I disagree with your views,” which would seem to me to be Compassion 101 level stuff.

    It’s gaslighting, and it goes on and on and on and on. It’s also, apparently, contagious, as evidenced by Ron Lindsay’s meltdown this weekend.

    qfmft

  75. Ichthyic says

    oolon

    there is also ool0n (with a zero).

    now I’m confused which one we’re referring to, though I do recall the irritating golden mean fallacy position one of them took here on Pharyngula a while back.

  76. says

    I think it’s the same guy. Just some of us are too lazy to switch in a 0.
    Pretty certain he was once tossed in the dungeon and recently let back in because he’s gotten better.

    But then, as common as fake and sock puppet accounts are I wouldn’t bet too heavily.

  77. Ichthyic says

    …and one oolon is convinced there are others impersonating them….

    *sigh* I suppose if I really care, I have to figure out where the oolon I’m thinking of posted his inane commentary on Pharyngula.

    anyone remember and can save me the trouble?

    must have been several months back, at least.

  78. says

    It’s a disappointment that Dave is going on Vacula’s show. I get that his personal bar is low since he goes on O’Rielly’s, but the two things really aren’t that comparable. No one thinks that Dave treats Fox News seriously. It’s obviously a means to an end: reaching an audience of right-wing religious people who normally avoid anything to do with atheism, and perhaps educating some of them. This is more like going on a show put out by a nobody endorsed by Stormfront to talk about how white supremacy is misguided. All it does is say that Vacula’s position merits discussion and attention.

    At this point, the talking should be *over*. It’s time to speak out, condemn, shun, marginalise, and burn bridges.

  79. Ichthyic says

    I’d like to think that the reason Dave is doing the show, is that he thinks he will be able to directly influence Vacula’s position.

    I personally don’t think it’s worth it, but if Dave can manage to at least get the guy to stop being a friggen ass, more power to him.

  80. Ichthyic says

    This is more like going on a show put out by a nobody endorsed by Stormfront to talk about how white supremacy is misguided.

    You’re probably right.

    What lesson will Dave come away with, you think?

  81. ednaz says

    Thank You Ophelia Benson, Scr… Archivist, WithinThisMind , Stephanie Zvan and Jadehawk for helping out us non-twitter folk.

    Mr. Silverman, Mr. Myers, I salute you.

  82. jodyp says

    Isn’t Vacula’s podcast name some kind of jab at Rebecca Watson, stemming from Elevatorgate?

  83. Anthony K says

    [OT]
    Oolon got what imprudent fence-straddlers get.

    Oolon is no fence-straddler. Not anymore. Oolon only trolls the pit and the anti-FTB crowd. Xe was important in the development of the Twitter bot that blocks the slymies from showing up on feeds.

    Xe is a thorn in the slymies’ sides, and they hate hir.

    I don’t know about sockpuppets of Oolon, but the one I know is no longer a fence-sitter and doesn’t troll FTB.

  84. Ichthyic says

    Oolon is no fence-straddler. Not anymore. Oolon only trolls the pit and the anti-FTB crowd.

    to be clear, this is the person who posts as Oolon here, and ool0n elsewhere?

  85. screechymonkey says

    Sorry, folks, my comment @69 was badly phrased. I meant that I assume the Pitters don’t apply the same principle to FtB, as evidenced by the way they tar all FtBers with the same brush, hivemind, etc.

  86. Ichthyic says

    I meant that I assume the Pitters don’t apply the same principle to FtB

    ahhh.

    that makes more sense.

  87. athyco says

    jodyp, #105:

    Isn’t Vacula’s podcast name some kind of jab at Rebecca Watson, stemming from Elevatorgate?

    Yes, in that it’s the obsessively storifying fellow who tweets under ElevatorGATE who originated the “accolade.” Those who argue against Watson, Benson, Myers, Zvan, Thibeault, Marcotte, et al (directly or indirectly, as Ron Lindsay was dubbed “Brave Hero” after his introductory remarks at WiS2) are honored with it. Those who argue for those on that list are the witch-hunting, brainwashed “minions.”

    I think that the Oolon of the Block Bot and Hashtag Spam Killer on Twitter is the same as the one who has recently posted here. He’d tweeted something a while back about having put his toe back in the Pharyngula comment pool when he discovered that his name was no longer in the Dungeon listing.

  88. Anthony K says

    to be clear, this is the person who posts as Oolon here, and ool0n elsewhere?

    That I don’t know. I don’t know ool0n elsewhere, so I can’t tell. The comment John linked to in #91 reads like the oolon I’m familiar with elsewhere on FtB, but I’d thought xe was still banned here. So that’s peculiar.

    But since the oolon I’m familiar with seems to have abandoned the middle path and has repudiated and pissed off the pitters, it’s possible that ool0n is an impersonation by one of them. It’s not like they haven’t done that to Ophelia Benson in the past.

    In my impression from comments elsewhere, oolon has been a defender of FtB and a vocal critic of the pitters for some time now, though I well remember xir’s ‘both sides now’ phase. (There’s always the spectre of the long con, because who really knows? but I don’t think so.)

  89. Anthony K says

    I think that the Oolon of the Block Bot and Hashtag Spam Killer on Twitter is the same as the one who has recently posted here. He’d tweeted something a while back about having put his toe back in the Pharyngula comment pool when he discovered that his name was no longer in the Dungeon listing.

    Ah. That answers that part. Did PZ ever comment that xe was unendungeonated?

  90. John Morales says

    [OT + meta]

    Anthony K, he, not xe is Oolon.

    (Quite open about his identity, if you look at the ‘about’ on his blog)

  91. Anthony K says

    Thanks John. That’s what I thought but couldn’t quite remember, and didn’t want to misgender him.

  92. jodyp says

    Thank you, Athyco. I knew it was something along those lines.

    Hopefully the fact that Vacula drapes himself in that kind of hostility sends a warning to Silverman.

  93. Anthony K says

    Oh, and

    Anthony K, he, not xe is Oolon.

    is wrong.

    Xe is a neutral term, applicable to all. ‘He, not xe’ doesn’t make sense, though the meaning is clear.

  94. says

    Sorry, folks, my comment @69 was badly phrased. I meant that I assume the Pitters don’t apply the same principle to FtB, as evidenced by the way they tar all FtBers with the same brush, hivemind, etc.

    ahh. sorry for the friendly fire then.

    no, they don’t apply that principle to FTB, precisely because we do have community standards. They’ve specifically set themselves up as a place where no one is responsible for anyone else, nor is anyone obligated to tell anyone else when they’re being harmful little shits; a non-community, if you will (or whatever libertarians of all flavors imagine “community” to mean)

  95. Anthony K says

    or whatever libertarians of all flavors imagine “community” to mean

    John Galt and the labourer/customer parasites who he depends on?

  96. chigau (違う) says

    Anthony K

    Xe is a neutral term, applicable to all.

    Not everyone agrees with this.

  97. says

    Maybe I should have a go at writing a Twitter discussion visualizer.

    It wouldn’t be easy; it’d have to be some sort of multi-dimensional tree graph you could pan around and step through.

    Anything less fails to capture the true messiness of Twitter communication.

  98. athyco says

    Hopefully the fact that Vacula drapes himself in that kind of hostility sends a warning to Silverman.

    I couldn’t agree more; Vacula will slant things as much as Bill O’Reilly ever would, and Dave would be making the WTF face enough that the muscles that pull in that configuration will be sore the morning after.
    Remember, he’d be on the entire hour show, not a single segment. The first 30 minutes of a Brave Hero radio show is host/guest questions; the second 30 adds in callers.

    I don’t know which way I’d go. Getting Vacula to agree to a “No personalities–concept-based discussion only,” would probably be best. I definitely heard unhappy “what do we say now?” pauses in the BraveHero episode when they interviewed Dr. Jennifer Hancock (JentheHumanist) about her book The Bully Vaccine. Vacula and Porter worked to frame FTBullies scenarios without naming names and being vague enough to avoid questions about the full context. Yes, she said things about not reacting to bullies that made them happy, but there were other things about the patterns of bullying behavior, expressing compassion, and the faults of the Slymepit side that weren’t what they wanted to hear.

    If it couldn’t be kept a concept only discussion, I think that I’d absolutely require the first fifteen minutes of segment one to be a series of direct questions that Vacula and Porter have to answer about their own behavior before I’d answer any of theirs. What Vacula has said/done in just the past six or seven months would make every complaint he’s had show as tu quoque and hypocrisy. Karla with her “As the Atheist World Turns” and tweet to WBC wouldn’t fare much better.

  99. Aratina Cage says

    On Oolon, yes, he was banned from here a while back. I hadn’t seen him comment much at Pharyngula at the time he was banned so I missed the parts where I would say he was indeed trolling (I read them later), but the day he was banned, I followed him to his blog and had a lot of talk with him about his banning and the slimepit and stuff like that.

    Right after that, I started urging people to block and report impostor accounts on Twitter (the slimepitters replace uppercase “i” with lowercase “L” and vice versa to mimic the Twitter names of FTB bloggers). Based on that idea of mass blocking, Oolon and I began collaborating on a bot for Twitter that would automatically block slimepitters based on a centrally located list. I was mostly there as inspiration, but we struck up a friendship doing it. Oolon eventually took the bot to the atheism+ forum that it is now a part of.

    Months after that, within the last few weeks I think, hyperdeath (who administrates the atheism+ forum) asked our blog host if Oolon could have his commenting privileges reinstated here, and it seems that he has been taken out of the dungeon for now, so I guess PZ is giving him a second chance. Thanks PZ!

    And to anyone using Twitter on the web, we have a new project going on at the atheism+ forum called the Zapper which acts like a killfile for Twitter. That will hopefully allow people to read the hashtags of events like Women in Secularism next time without all the clutter from slimepitters like Justin Vacula.

  100. Anthony K says

    Not everyone agrees with this.

    If John understands the word differently, then my mistake.

  101. chigau (違う) says

    Kagato #125
    If you really have a go at this, can you include an explanation of what the @ means?

  102. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Anthony K, John understands that unless someone habitually employs gender-neutral personal pronouns, when they do so it means that they are unsure of that person’s gender identification.

  103. chigau (違う) says

    Anthony K
    re: xe
    There was an incident where Caine referred to another commenter as ‘xe’.
    Said commenter is trans* and prefers ‘she’ and took Caine’s referral as a slight.

  104. John Morales says

    [OT]

    chigau,

    If you really have a go at this, can you include an explanation of what the @ means?

    First, visualising n-trees* needs no re-invention (I used modules for it back when I programmed with Delphi), and second, the @ symbol when Tweeting indicates the Tweet is addressed to that identity.

    * Each node has up to n children, but only one parent.

  105. says

    Thank you Dave Silverman, it’s really nice not to be disappointed for once.

    With regards to oolon: Yes, he came around some time ago, noticing that his fence sitting accomplished nothing and is advising others to the same.
    Which is exactly what people here are usually holding up as the gold standadrd: learning and changing

  106. chigau (違う) says

    John Morales

    First, visualising n-trees* needs no re-invention (I used modules for it back when I programmed with Delphi), and second, the @ symbol when Tweeting indicates the Tweet is addressed to that identity.
    .
    * Each node has up to n children, but only one parent.

    We have lumps of it ’round the back.

  107. athyco says

    If David Silverman does appear on a BraveHero radio show, I’m going to listen to it live.

    I’d probably not call in–with such a high profile interview, the odds would not be good on getting through. But I’ll have collected a page or so of links, and I’ll be dipping into them while live tweeting to the BraveHero hashtag.

  108. says

    I’m starting to feel slightly queasy just thinking about what it would need to do.

    There would probably need to be two node types — People and Tweets — and four relationships — Tweet-by-Person, Tweet-at-Person, Tweet-replyTo-Tweet, and Tweet-retweetOf-Tweet.

    Interacting with the graph would let you view all the recent tweets of a person, the reply chain of a given tweet, step over to targeted people and see their tweets, see retweets and which triggered the biggest discussions, etc.

    It’ll be a nightmare to write; and probably a hellish rabbit-hole to play with, on the order of tvtropes.

    I’ll see what I can do.

  109. Ichthyic says

    If it couldn’t be kept a concept only discussion, I think that I’d absolutely require the first fifteen minutes of segment one to be a series of direct questions that Vacula and Porter have to answer about their own behavior before I’d answer any of theirs. What Vacula has said/done in just the past six or seven months would make every complaint he’s had show as tu quoque and hypocrisy. Karla with her “As the Atheist World Turns” and tweet to WBC wouldn’t fare much better.

    you should contact Dave and offer background and ideas.

    seriously.

    I get the impression Silverman is walking into this still a bit blind.

  110. says

    Ooo my legions of Google bots searching for any mention of my name have failed me (Slymepit paranoia about me turning up in their threads!)

    I don’t know if this comment will get through as I appear to be in some sort of limbo between ban and moderation. I’ve posted a comment on Thunderdome to not derail this thread… One of my favourite subjects is oolon so I go on a bit. Will presumably appear somewhere under this comment.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/05/09/thunderdome-26/comment-page-1/#comment-623500

    On topic, Silverman needs to get Justin to stick to specifics, Justin was literally very Slymey when asked to give ANY specific examples of nasty pushback against feminists online by Nugent. Then he backed out of the dialogue and refused to continue with Nugent. He will move the goal posts and evade and engage in tu quoque to avoid being pinned down. Will be interesting, anyone know if Silverman is any good at debate?

    @Athyco, like the idea of a live tweet on #bravehero… Maybe the @hashspamkiller needs to start retweeting that hash ;-)

  111. kassad says

    Regarding Oolon, I remember it like this:

    – He followed both FTB and Abby Smith.

    – When the Slymepit appeared in its full glory, he still followed both.

    – He started commenting here too say “don’t throw the baby with the bathwater, not everybody is bad there“, (and also did the same there and called out some of the more disgusting behaviour to be fair).

    – Then he (rightfully) got his ass kicked here for keeping the discourse that the Pitters were jsut poor misguided souls with a few bad apples.

    – He kept going to other FTB blogs and then to the Pit trying to continue to convince them to stop being hateful dimwits.

    – It got worse and worse (surprise!) until he seemed to have a “Fuck them moment” and realize that they were indeed a bunch useless fuckwits and went full-on Atheism +.

    – He started arguing and denouncing against the “principled middle” and the sexist crap since as far as I saw. I regularly see him in the some of the vile comment sections fighting the good fight so to speak. He looks quite good at it I might add.

    This is an account made entirely from memory, so there might be some errors and misrepresentations. If it is the case, sorry don’t hesitate to correct me please!

  112. B-Lar says

    If Vacula turned his position around after a hard look at what is really going on in the field (AKA “pulling an Oolon”) and issued a condemnation of things he actually believes occurs in reality (rather than an “I dont believe this is happening but I condmen it anyway” halfassed effort) would anyone believe him?

    How much work would he have to do in order to turn it around? Would he ever be able to be trusted on either side of the fence?

    Leaving the MRA fold must be a lot like becoming an apostate. Demonised by both your old comrades and your new ones. You would only ever put yourself in that position if you had an incredible level of personal integrity.

  113. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Perhaps I’m alone in this, but I see nothing but a golden opportunity for Silverman if he appears on Vapid’s “show”. If Silverman handles Vapid as well as he did on the always useless Twitter, it would make the very best out of that bigot shit fest “show”. Not that I’m advocating Silverman go on merely to attack Vapid – though, I’d certainly get a kick out of Vapid having a taste of his own medicine. But if Silverman doesn’t allow Vapid to get away with anything, it would be the most entertaining interview Vapid ever does.

    Sure it might raise Vapid’s profile. His profile as a weasely, sniveling, logical fallacy humping, bigoted coward.

  114. gussnarp says

    I’ve tended to be ambivalent with regard to David Silverman. Sometimes I think he’s fantastic, sometimes I think he’s screwing up. Certainly he needs to hire a better billboard designer. But now he’s moved up several notches in my estimation and gone from ambivalent to strongly positive.

    Vacula, on the other hand, I’ve heard quite enough from to permanently dump him in the negative category, barring a full and complete apology and 180 degree turnaround in his future behavior. Certainly I won’t read the statement he posted, nor listen to his show. Not a hit nor a download will be credited to him from me, ever. I can’t imagine he’s said anything that makes up enough for his vile past to justify it.

  115. gussnarp says

    @Illuminata – I mostly agree with you. I’m not sure Vacula is worth the time or it’s simply raising his profile, but there’s something to be said for the fact that Silverman is just much better at this. He’s honed his chops against O’Reilly and the rest of his ilk and can surely handle Vacula nicely. The outcome could justify the attention. And after all, most here would say ignoring the trolls is the wrong approach, in this case, Silverman’s going to take it to the troll’s house. So it all depends on how it goes down. After all, sometimes ignoring the trolls is the right approach, it’s just sometimes hard to tell when…..regardless, I won’t listen and give Vacula the benefit of counting my download.

  116. says

    Chigau:
    I was under the impression that said commenter took issue with Caines use of ‘xe’ because she thought Caine knew her gender (she did not know). So it didn’t appear as a dislike of ‘xe’ in general, so long as an individual is uncertain of her gender.
    ****
    Aratina:
    Thanks for all youve done.
    ****
    Kagato:
    My hat is off to you as well.
    ****
    Oolon:
    If you’re reading by chance, thank you for denouncing the pitters.

  117. cswella says

    Forgive me if I’m missing something, but why is ‘xe’ offensive? Seems to me any term that’s meant to reduce contortions in language(having to write a post without gendered terms, doable, but sometimes you lose the meaning) while not assuming a gender is a good thing.

  118. Anthony K says

    Count me in the finding “xe” offensive camp.

    So what’s the preferred gender neutral term to use when the gender of the subject is unknown?

  119. chigau (違う) says

    Tony
    I was under the impression that said commenter considered “xe” to be an insulting way of referring to persons of non-normative gender.

  120. badgersdaughter says

    So what’s the preferred gender neutral term to use when the gender of the subject is unknown?

    At the moment, English usage is tipping toward “singular they“. I personally prefer to do without pronouns as far as possible without sounding like an idiot.

  121. Eristae says

    It makes me really, really, really happy that Silverman did this. It gives me hope that I can hunt out reasonable secular and/or atheist groups and/or organizations. I need to write him a thank you note or something.

  122. Anthony K says

    Thanks, Katherine and badgersdaughter.

    ‘They’ is actually my preference, but for some reason I had it in my head last night that ‘they’ wasn’t preferable to ‘xe’. I shall use ‘they’ from now on.

  123. Doug Hudson says

    I really like the singular “they” when referring to an indefinite individual (i.e., the slympitter was trolling the thread, until they got banned.”)

    It seems weird to use it for a definite individual, though (Oolon was banned, until they apologized.) Just sounds wrong. I guess I’ll get used to it.

    Thanks for the Wikipedia link, I was wondering why “xe” was offensive.

  124. ChasCPeterson says

    English usage is tipping toward “singular they“.

    alas. It’s clunky, confusingly ambiguous, and annoying.

  125. chigau (違う) says

    I hate ‘singular they’ and will spend much rephrasing a sentence to avoid using it.

  126. Anthony K says

    alas. It’s clunky, confusingly ambiguous, and annoying.

    Fortunately, it’s somewhat common in spoken Canadian English. “What happened to Rick? Where’d they go?” “They went to the store. They’ll be back in ten.”

    I hate ‘singular they’ and will spend much rephrasing a sentence to avoid using it.

    They don’t feel the same way about you, chigau.

  127. says

    At the moment, English usage is tipping toward “singular they“. I personally prefer to do without pronouns as far as possible without sounding like an idiot.

    That’s a very slow tip. Pfft copypasta:

    There’s not a man I meet but doth salute me / As if I were their well-acquainted friend — Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, Act IV, Scene 3 (1594)

    “A person can’t help their birth,” Rosalind replied with great liberality. — Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1848)

  128. Aratina Cage says

    I love singular “they”. :) I also like “xe”, but it usually isn’t too difficult to rewrite something so that a pronoun isn’t even necessary.

    Also, if anyone wants to try out the Zapper for Twitter, you need to have Greasemonkey installed on the Firefox browser, or Tampermonkey installed on the Google Chrome browser, and then go here, http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/167910 , to install it. You have to up the block level to at least medium to really see it work on the #WiSCFI hashtag.

  129. chigau (違う) says

    They don’t feel the same way about you, chigau.

    How can one be sure?

  130. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    One wonders how one should refer to the gender of a person if that gender is not known.

  131. Anthony K says

    How can one be sure?

    Talk to them, chigau. They’re really quite approachable.

  132. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I find the singular they aesthetically ugly, but preferable to any other alternative. This must be what it feels like to be in the middle of a mechanical usage change in language—you know there’s a lack, but you’re too old to hear the new usage without getting prickly about it.

  133. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Y halo thar language derail (ducks)

    On this, I agree vehemently with Josh. The usage of singular they tends to cause the stylistic ickies, but I find it preferable to the invented pronouns. On a related note, it’s amusing that Japanese can sideline the problem entirely due to the fact that pronoun usage is rare, and almost always subcontextual (and the fact that the societal structure necessitates speaking around the subject, as opposed to addressing it)

  134. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    I just tell myself that people who grow up with the usage will not feel like there has been a change and try to let it go. (Damn but a lot of words got invented in the last half century.)

  135. daniellavine says

    Not seeing in the wikipedia article where it explains why “xe” is offensive. I’ve never actually used it but I am curious now. Would someone point it out or explain it please?

  136. says

    @165: Whereas I find some usages of singular they quite natural and unconscious — as pointed out, it’s been around since at least Shakespeare, so it doesn’t really represent a shift-in-progress. However, it does get clunky when extended to some constructions (eg: To de-genderfy “He can do it for himself”, when referring to an individual of unknown gender, should we say “They can do it for themselves” or “They can do it for themself”?). Still, I prefer it to neologisms like “xe”.

    Really, though: this is a problem with no good solution. Damn English, anyways….

    (Meta: Geez, talk about thread drift!)

  137. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Eamon: Actually, the singular they wikipedia article helpfully notes that They retains semantic plurality in this case: “They can do it for themselves” is the appropriate construction. :eng101:

    damn I miss some of the emoticons I use on other forums.

    On the subject of this whole kerfluffle with vacula and WiS: Finke posted up on Camels with his response to the whole mess, and highlighted his civility pledge thingie. His writing still feels a bit overwrought to me, and he still feels like a tone troll, but he makes a few good points. Just don’t read the comments unless your idea of fun is watching Katie Graham throw out useless apologetics and snide remarks at Marcotte.

  138. Anthony K says

    Really, though: this is a problem with no good solution.

    Having worked in government, the solution is to change the criteria for ‘good’.

    …and then acronym the fuck out of everything so that meaningful communication is nigh impossible, finally icing the whole clusterfuck cake with liberal applications of buzzwords and terms like “engagement” and “low-hanging fruit”.

  139. Anthony K says

    I approve of David Silverman.
    They’re a great guy person!

    I never met them.

  140. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Anthony K:

    As a current federal employee, I understand this position. We enhance our language through exploitation of complex language obfuscation (CLO) which is determined by a non-partial, inter-agency committee on proper language use (CPLU) to administer documentation and enforcement of CLO through the office of the director of proper language use (OfDirPLU). The OfDirPLU then appoints the oversight committee on proper language use (OvCPLU), which provides Annual Operating Reports (AOReps) to the OfDirPLU on the administration of CLO through the agency.

    This would be funnier if I couldn’t just swap some Acronyms and have a pretty accurate picture of my current agency org chart ><. Protip: Don't work for the feds unless you can speak or are willing to learn Bureacratese.

  141. says

    @170: Seconded on Finke’s post — I may refer certain local people to it, should certain conversations take place this weekend…..

    Yeah, he’s waaaay verbose, and I had reservations about some of his civility pledge, but I don’t think he can be fairly called a tone troll — he really does want substantive issues discussed, including marginalized voices (which he is at some pains to emphasize).

  142. chigau (違う) says

    Anthony K

    Having worked in government, the solution is to change the criteria for ‘good’.
    …and then acronym the fuck out of everything so that meaningful communication is nigh impossible, finally icing the whole clusterfuck cake with liberal applications of buzzwords and terms like “engagement” and “low-hanging fruit”.

    Amen.
    and don’t forget the stake-holders.

    I almost forgot: David Silverman.

  143. says

    @daniellavine

    Not seeing in the wikipedia article where it explains why “xe” is offensive. I’ve never actually used it but I am curious now. Would someone point it out or explain it please?)

    I think it’s this:

    Some of these individuals strongly advocate the use of singular they for the situations in which gender-neutral pronouns are traditionally used (when the referent could be of any gender), maintaining that these alternate pronouns do have connotations of non-binary gender.

    I don’t know if “offensive” is the word I’d use for that. But if it’s meant to imply non-binary gender then it’s a “gendered” pronoun (albeit one that recognizes the non-binary nature of gender).

    Of course, there’s no source for that statement in the article, so I have no idea if it’s correct.

    I’m too old now to be able to change my ways — I just can’t bring myself to use the new words. If it’s a reference to a non-specific person, I just always use “she”. If it’s a reference to a person whose gender I don’t know, I write around it, or use “they” when backed into a corner.

    Someone once suggested substituting “the motherfucker” for an indefinite gender (i.e., “the slympitter was trolling the thread, until the motherfucker got banned.”), but I think only Samuel R. Jackson adopted that usage.

  144. Ogvorbis, broken failure. says

    Protip: Don’t work for the feds unless you can speak or are willing to learn Bureacratese

    But all lines of work develop their own acronyms and slang, not just government. And we do it for a good reason. If I am writing a grant proposal to get some private monies for a project involving an historic building, using a term like ‘cosmetic stabilization’, or ‘adaptive reuse’, or ‘adaptive rehabilitation’ is done so that the person judging the grant application knows exactly what type of restoration I am attempting. This way, I do not have to rewrite the entire description of what level of restoration is going on — those within the restoration community/business/bureaucracy. Just as doctors and lawyers and teachers and biologists and palaeontologists and astrophysicists all have their own slang that it very difficult to understand for outsiders. When I went into wild land fire support, I had to relearn a whole bunch of terms that, in other situations, have other meanings: task force, division, asset, logistics, ground support, expanded dispatch. Every job has its own vocabulary. United States Bureaucratese just happens to use lettered acronyms as part of our slang.

  145. Anthony K says

    Xaivius: you don’t rework your acronyms until they spell or sound like an actual word and then send out memos explaining the relevance of the homophone?

    I’m familiar with an upper level manager who reorged several departments under the umbrella group CLEVR (Comprehensive Leveraging of Evaluations, Validations, and Reports) and then sent out a company-wide memo introducing the new group CLEVR and then explaining how CLEVR also reminds us all to be clever about how we do our work because nobody would recognise the fantastical brilliance of the puncronym without it being explicitly stated.*

    But all lines of work develop their own acronyms and slang, not just government. And we do it for a good reason.

    This is different. The acronyms and jargon in the cases we’re referring to aren’t meaningful in the way, say, medical or palaeontology jargon is. We’re talking about upper level managers making up shit so they can justify their role in leading a department that performs functions they don’t understand. These terms aren’t formalised in industry in the way, say, in situ is, or something like that. It’s a collection of letters indicating some committee, group or department that wasn’t there a year ago, and won’t be there in a year from now when a new upper manager who has no experience in this particular field shakes shit up, coins a new acronym, and teh circle of gov’t continues.

    *Details have been changed, though the idiocy has been well-preserved.

  146. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Anthony: Oh no, you see that’s the domain of the upper muckety-mucks with SES ratings, or the more enterprising GS-13+ directors. I’m at the bottom tier, and we just roll with it. The sad part is the fact that, while I can keep most of this straight (and some of the acronyms ARE standardized jargon, like form names (SF-52, standard form #52), there are also a shittonne of stupid organizational acronyms and “CLEVR” groupnames to make people’s promotion prospects look better.

    Even the standardized acronyms have the issue of there being THOUSANDS, and each job only dealing with a tiny minority of these. I would assume this is probably due to the massive scope and size of the organization, though.

  147. Anthony K says

    Anthony: Oh no, you see that’s the domain of the upper muckety-mucks with SES ratings, or the more enterprising GS-13+ directors.

    Ah. Different kind of government, I guess. ‘Round here, nobody at the upper levels seems to have any qualifications whatsoever besides the ability to coin an acronym and somehow consider that as ‘having done work’.

  148. carlie says

    I’m familiar with an upper level manager who reorged several departments under the umbrella group CLEVR (Comprehensive Leveraging of Evaluations, Validations, and Reports) and then sent out a company-wide memo introducing the new group CLEVR and then explaining how CLEVR also reminds us all to be clever about how we do our work because nobody would recognise the fantastical brilliance of the puncronym without it being explicitly stated.*

    Is that the same person who used AskJeeves to find Google to search for his own department’s web page, or do you work with more than one person like that?

  149. Ogvorbis, aquaskeptic groupie! says

    This is different. The acronyms and jargon in the cases we’re referring to aren’t meaningful in the way, say, medical or palaeontology jargon is.

    I guess my agency is special. Or at least when it comes to restoration, preservation, etc. Sorry.

  150. says

    I find the singular they aesthetically ugly, but preferable to any other alternative. This must be what it feels like to be in the middle of a mechanical usage change in language—you know there’s a lack, but you’re too old to hear the new usage without getting prickly about it.

    you know, I’ve gotten used to the singular they so much that whenever I read texts that use the (to me) archaic “generic he”, it feels/sounds like nails on chalkboard.

    Interesting how such things are a matter of (de-)habituation :-)

  151. David Marjanović says

    Is that the same person who used AskJeeves to find Google to search for his own department’s web page, or do you work with more than one person like that?

    GAAAH GAAAH GAAAH

    Sorry. I’ll catch up later.

    you know, I’ve gotten used to the singular they so much that whenever I read texts that use the (to me) archaic “generic he”, it feels/sounds like nails on chalkboard.

    Same for me, and I don’t even live in an English-speaking country. Even the use with antecedents of only theoretically uncertain gender, like “when somebody is pregnant, they…”, comes naturally to me.

  152. says

    @185: I recall reading recently about a case of a trans-man who still had the necessary working parts, electing to get pregnant and have a baby. Therefore maybe not so theoretical….

  153. Ogvorbis, aquaskeptic groupie! says

    Is that the same person who used AskJeeves to find Google to search for his own department’s web page, or do you work with more than one person like that?

    That was my boss. He wanted to show me something on the Yellowstone website. So he typed in ask.com on the url line. Then, in the search box, he typed google. He clicked on the link to google and then, in the search line, typed http://www.nps.gov/yell (which is the url address) and still couldn’t find the page.

  154. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Ogvorbis:

    NPS! Fun! I work for Ag research as a lowly office critter. Best I’ve got was a Ph.D who was so indignant at our lowly T1 internet (we’re on an extension center about 6 miles from anything resembling civilization) balking when he heard that a fiber strand would cost around 25k a year.

    David: welcome to federal work.

    Also: David Silverman

  155. David Marjanović says

    Fortunately, it’s somewhat common in spoken Canadian English. “What happened to Rick? Where’d they go?” “They went to the store. They’ll be back in ten.”

    *mind blown*

    @185: I recall reading recently about a case of a trans-man who still had the necessary working parts, electing to get pregnant and have a baby. Therefore maybe not so theoretical….

    …Yeah, I actually thought of that, but couldn’t find a better example… :-(

  156. says

    Really, though: this is a problem with no good solution. Damn English, anyways….

    english is probably one of the easiest languages to ge-gender. imagine trying to do that with a language where the verbs and adjectives get gendered depending on the speaker/person spoken to, as well :-/

  157. Numenaster says

    Xaivius: hey, I’m a former Ag research fed too! But I was in Forest Service research (yes, that is a thing). You are USDA direct?

  158. says

    Wow. That is some thread drift. Interesting though. It took some time for me to get accustomed to using ‘xe’ after I first saw it used here at FtB. I dislike the clunky nature of they. I don’t quite understand why ‘xe’ implies binary gender thinking (I thought the gender neutral nature of the word meant that it could be applied to any gender, not just men or women). While I’m inclined to continue using ‘xe’, I would definitely avoid using it for individuals who express a dislike for it.

  159. says

    Today I saw a Mercedes commercial that went something like this:

    Every day, everywhere we?/you? are told how to drive [pics of signs, arrows etc, on different roads]. There comes a time that every driver can just follow his instinct. [emphasis mine]

    I guess Mercedes doesn’t want to sell its cars to women. To them, all drivers are men. [It was a man's hands on the steering wheel, btw.]

  160. arbor says

    ‘xe’ does nothing for me. It seems quite contrived and artificial. It currently serves more to focus attention on the writer rather than to deemphasize gender or avoid gender mistakes. This is not a good candidate.

    Singular ‘they’ has limited potential. It tends to sound stilted.

    I have, on occasion, used ‘s/h/it’ to convey my feelings about a person, but I’m going to adopt ‘motherfucker’ for that purpose.

    Living at this time, I don’t think that one can write well in English without out offending someone.

    Given that, offend with style and gusto through intent rather than through carelessness.

  161. says

    Arbor:
    ‘Xe’ sounds contrived because it is. That doesnt make it inherently worse than ‘she’ or ‘he’ or
    ‘they’. I see the deliberate creation of this word as a good thing. It allows for the inclusion of all genders, rather than just one (thus making all the others invisible). When using ‘xe’, why do you believe attention is more focused on the writer than hir attempt to employ gender neutrality? Is that what happens when YOU see ‘xe’ (or do you believe this is a view shared by many others) ? You think about the writer? Why that vs the reason many people use the term? When I used ‘hir’ above, does that word have the same effect on you?
    Don’t use the word if you don’t like it, obviously, but I’m trying to understand your opposition to it and I cannot.

    That said, I’m not going to dehumanize anyone by referring to them as ‘s/h/it’. That’s incredibly insulting.

    Moreover, “you cannot write well in English without offending someone” comes off to me as “I’m not going try to reduce any unintentional insults when writing”. What’s the harm in trying to tweak your words so that others aren’t offended?

    (I want to be clear that I’m talking about a specific type of word choice-gender neutral words used to avoid misgendering anyone. I’m not talking about avoiding the use of “your imaginary sky daddy” when speaking with a creationist.)

  162. Ichthyic says

    Tony, you’ve been trolled.

    I have, on occasion, used ‘s/h/it’ to convey my feelings about a person, but I’m going to adopt ‘motherfucker’ for that purpose.

    read that closely again.

    arbor thought he was being amusing.

  163. says

    Tony –

    What are your thoughts about the statement from the Wikipedia article that some people see “xe” as being a gendered pronoun for people of non-binary gender?

    For me, it’s not about being contrived or about where it draws attention (though I’ve seen people who identify others ideologically/subculturally based on their use). It’s the fact that I see enough conflicting information about them that I can’t use them with confidence. There also seems to be a confusing multiplicity of them, so it’s hard to know which ones to go with.

    I’d also like to state that I do not endorse the use of “the motherfucker”, and that I know that Samuel Jackson’s middle initial is “L”. My superpower is the ability to compromise the funniness of a joke with typographical errors.

  164. says

    I don’t quite understand why ‘xe’ implies binary gender thinking

    I think you got that backwards; it implies non-binary gender; and is therefore gendered. Whereas “they” doesn’t imply anything, whether within or outside the binary

  165. says

    Jadehawk:
    (Asher Kay, I think this addresses your question too)

    Thank you.
    I was doing just that.
    I understand the opposition mentioned in the Wikipedia article much better now-

    ” Many of these newly-coined pronouns are also used by members of the transgender community, particularly those who consider themselves to be of non-binary gender. Some of these individuals strongly advocate the use of singular they for the situations in which gender-neutral pronouns are traditionally used (when the referent could be of any gender), maintaining that these alternate pronouns do have connotations of non-binary gender.”

    So what could be useful is a word that does imply any type of gender, but is not clunky.

  166. Callinectes says

    Now that you’ve paid for lifetime membership, what happens if Silverman retires and is replaced by a shithead?

  167. Ichthyic says

    Now that you’ve paid for lifetime membership, what happens if Silverman retires and is replaced by a shithead?

    uh, you do note that effectively, PZ made this decision WHILE Silverman was being a shithead?

    the CEO of a nonprofit does NOT “run” the nonprofit.